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Bobthebuilder's next adventure - Key West to Havana, Cuba

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Old 09-18-2009, 11:23 AM
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Bob, hope you have fun, I have wanted to go for a few years but as an American can't,,,, well maybe, I have heard you can fly from Cayman and for some reason your passport doesn't get stamped, but I have not wanted to try that yet.
Many American's go via another country without problem. When I was in Nassau there were flights to Havana. Also some go thru Cancun. There are also direct flights from Toronto but don't advise that as you overfly US and I have heard US now wants all names of people flying over US even if they do not land. Cuban officials co operate by not stamping your passport. I asked them no to stamp mine and it was no problem.
It is a very interesting place to see as many things are so very different from our everyday life. Life is very difficult here but most we have met are happy but very needy and lacking basic things.
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Old 09-18-2009, 11:40 AM
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Bob,

Glad you made it in ok. Sounds like an adventure. Can't wait to see some pictures.

You should do a bar crawl through Old Havana. We stayed at the Santa Isabel right in the heart of it and had great times looking for the best bar. And found some good ones.

The National has a nice outside patio area for Mohitos but the best restaurants are elsewhere. We ate out every meal and found three very good restaurants you should try. The best two are private "Paladore's". The La Guarida is really great (don't worry about the entrance and the stairs up-just hit the buzzer at the unmarked door at the top) and the Don Carmella is over by Morro Castle and has nice outdoor seating. The La Oriente Restaurant (not oriental food) is in San Francisco Plaza in Old Havana. You will feel like you stepped back into 1958 when you go in. All great but if you choose one go with La Guarida for the whole experience. (they all have toilet seats and paper)

Have fun and let us know how it's going.

David
Hi David. We have taxi driver contact here that has been very helpful. I will get thw name of the great outdoor restaurant we ate at last night. One of the three you described is on for tonight and will confirm the name.
I am on the VIP floor of the National and you will see by the pic my toilet is as good as home. It comes with paper as well !! This morning when I went for breakfast all the staff were gathered around this obvious celebrity taking pictures. She is a latin singer from Puerto Rico - Olga Tanon. Had my pic taken w her and talked a bit. She has a place in Orlando and wished us a safe trip.
The other pic is Cuban CG following us into Marina Hemingway. We have more action shots and video we discreetly took for later.
Bob
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Old 09-18-2009, 12:16 PM
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As time went on they came to realize we were not bad guys and things loosened up. One spoke decent English and I said to him : You know we let you catch us, eh? After nodding in agreement and having a good laugh, he patted his gun and we laughed some more.
Bob
Bob,

Great story, glad to hear things worked out.

Have a safe and great time.

Take lots of pictures. Hope to see you in a few weeks.
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Old 09-18-2009, 01:24 PM
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just the start of this trip and already some funny things to read!!! keep posting!
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Old 09-18-2009, 06:39 PM
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Bob,

Great story..great adventure.....congrats!

Keep the pics and updates coming.

KL
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Old 09-18-2009, 06:53 PM
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Default A further report from "Big Daddy"

I am now known around Havana and by my crew as "Big Daddy". Too funny. We were doing a tour of a cigar factory this afternoon that has 700 workers. Our guide was a cutie names Ely who spoke very good English. Part way thru the tour she addressed me as " Big Daddy" to much laughter. Now I have no respect from the crew and inteasd of Captain, I'm just Big Daddy.

Some brief notes about the Partagas Cigar Factory. They produce 30,000 cigars a day. No automation. Same as 100 years ago. They have people in "training" that when they are able to produce 60 to 180 cigars a day become "professional" and make more money. As u go thru factory workers try to get u out of group and sell u cigars. This happened several times. Most expensive cigar is Cohiba Behike at 15,000 uros a box. Like i imagine a sweat shop would be like. Very hot, humid with only fans. Only A/C in retail store and VIP smoking room. In important baseball game was on today so radio was piped thru plant. The 300 professionals had a TV on a table at front of room. Every day for 45 minutes a reader reads the news over the PA system. If no ball game to watch, he reads books to workers over PA. I have never seen anything like this.
I asked if the Gov. owns the factory. Surprised to hear half govm't and half private investors from UK, France and Spain.
This trip has been a major culture shock for me. So much more to tell.
Bob

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Old 09-18-2009, 07:11 PM
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Default Nuther funny story

After pictures were being taken of Olga Tanon and I, one of the staff approached me and showed me what a great picture she taken. She then said - "this time tomorrow, I bring to your room." I say - Olga ? You can't bring Olga to my room ! I could not understand her reply and she was not understanding me. We go to the front desk and someone there who speaks English said " she wants you to have a copy of the picture, and that is what she is bringing to your room. Much laughing by all of us but the laugh was on Bob. Just so much crazy stuff like that with the language barrier.
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Old 09-18-2009, 08:13 PM
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Bob
Thanks for the great" Big Daddy" stories and everyday experience of the cuban culture.
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Old 09-18-2009, 08:36 PM
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bob,me and the wife have enjoyed reading about your adventures in cuba.sounds like your living the life.have a good time and rember.we are here for a good time,not a long time.have a safe trip.back.
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Old 09-19-2009, 08:49 AM
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Default Picture time

1) Joe Quinn, Toronto; Paul Huck, Kitchener; James Glover, London & Big Daddy LOL

2) Leaving Key West harbor - 2 miles out I am running still thru a mental checklist and realize I forgot my passport and money in the hotel safe. Had to return and start over.

3) the sea half way there. Less than 2 ft. Sometimes it would change a bit.

4) Havana first coming into view about 15 miles out or so,

5) Cuban CG escort. Young guys. You can see the rifle slung over the guys shoulder right in front of console.
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